Another new Athabasca University (AU) course, SOCI 348 – Sociology of Environment and Health, just opened this past December. This course, which examines key issues in environmental health, also addresses the potential links between industry toxins, such as pollution, and evidence of diseases in our environment. Course author and professor, Dr. Ella Haley, indicates that SOCI 348 focuses, in particular, on the environments “where people live and work.”
Sociology of Environment and Health consists of eight units that explore connections between environment and industry. Units one and two provide students with the tools necessary to approach the subject with confidence. Over the next unit, students explore “epidemiological health social units” followed by a unit focusing on cancer and its potential link to living and working in toxic environments. Unit 5 looks at “ethical issues related to the funding of science in environmental health controversies and corporate crime,” says Dr Haley, as students are introduced to the parties responsible for maintaining healthy environments, such as governments, corporations, and scientists. Students also explore issues related to agriculture and “military-industrial complexes,” discussing issues common to the communities on the “rural-urban fringe.” SOCI 348 also focuses, says Dr. Haley, in particular on the computer industry, looking at its environmental effects from a global context. Additionally, sprinkled throughout the course are multi-media resources to “make the course come alive,” Dr. Haley notes.
Student evaluation in Sociology of Environment and Health consists of three assignments (worth 20 per cent, 5 per cent, and 35 per cent, respectively), as well as a final exam worth 40 per cent of the course grade. For each of the three assignments, students are given a topic to expand their knowledge of course-related topics through writing essays of approximately ten pages in length.
When students have finished SOCI 348, their learning adventure in the sociology of environment and health does not have to stop there. Dr Haley encourages students with an interest in the field to continue pursuing studies through SOCI 426, which continues in the same vein and offers students the opportunity to “present their published work at conferences, publish it … and share it with NGOs [non-government organizations] and community organizations.”
For more information, visit the SOCI 348 syllabus located at the following web site: http://www.athabascau.ca/html/syllabi/soci/soci348.htm